Trump Tells Bob Woodward He Intentionally Downplayed Danger of COVID-19

“I wanted to always play it down,” the president told Woodward in an interview for his upcoming book

President Trump told the journalist Bob Woodward that he was intentionally downplaying the danger of COVID-19 despite acknowledging how “deadly” the virus was, according to recorded interviews featured in Woodward’s upcoming book, “Rage.”

“To be honest with you, I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward on March 19, according to audio published in the Washington Post. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

In an interview conducted a month earlier, Trump also said COVID-19 was deadlier than the flu — a stark contrast from the president’s public comments at the time comparing the virus to the seasonal flu.

“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu,” Trump said during a Feb. 7 call with Woodward. “This is deadly stuff.”

Woodward’s “Rage” will be published next Tuesday and features 18 on-the-record interviews Woodward conducted with Trump from Dec. 2019 to July 2020, according to the Post. The book comes a year after Woodward’s “Fear,” which looked into Trump’s early years in the presidency.